After the Arlington Public Schools board decided to close the David M. Brown planetarium because of budget cuts, Arlingtonians sprang into action to save the 40-year-old landmark.  Estimates claimed that more than $400,000 would be needed for improvements.  A non-profit, Friends of the Arlington Planetarium, was formed to raise the funds necessary to make the needed upgrades, and members asked the school board to keep the planetarium open part-time during the fundraising.  The non-profit group needs to raise $322,240 by March 31, 2011 and $402,800 by June 30, 2011.  They are currently at $255,030.

The David M. Brown planetarium is located on the grounds of Washington-Lee High School, and is named after the Arlington native and NASA astronaut who died in 2003’s space shuttle Columbia disaster.  Brown attended Yorktown High School in Arlington.

In addition to public weekend programs and a monthly ‘Stars Tonight’ program, thousands of students visit the planetarium each year.   These visits have given many students their first taste of astronomy and kindled a love of science for many.  Check out the comments on the petition to see how the planetarium has affected the lives of many who have visited it.

So, how can you help?

You can donate to help keep it open.

You can also attend one of the shows– In My Backyard, a weekly show (more details below), or the monthly ‘Stars Tonight’ program- next one is February 7th.

Spread the word! Check out the websiteFacebook,  or Twitter: @saveplanetarium

Volunteer… email save.the.planetarium@gmail.com to learn how you can help.

In My Backyard is a program for young kids, ages 4-6.  The program first teaches about nature during the day as the season change.  Then the show moves to the night sky.  There will be singing, clapping, and poems, as kids get the chance to learn about planets, stars, constellations, and the moon.  It shows Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm, and Sundays 1:30 and 3:00pm.  Tickets are $3.00 for adults and $2.00 for children 12 and under.  Doors open 15 minutes before showtime and are closed and locked once the program begins.  Try to get there early!  Go to http://www.apsva.us/1540108291847373/site/default.asp for more information abut this show.

Do any of you have memories of the planetarium as a child?  Have you taken your children to see shows?  What did you think?

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